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BINGOLife Winter 2015 - Issue 20

The Variety Issue



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BINGOLife Published by ACE Publishing Ltd

Editorial Editor in Chief - Glyn Thomas Mob: +380 952 705 596 glyn@ace123.com Editor - Miles Baron miles@ace123.com Online Bingo Editor Mark McGuinness mark@ace123.com Associate Editor - Janice Chaka Guadalajara - janice@ace123.com

Correspondents Asia - Bill Healey bill@ace123.com Europe - Andrew Behan abehan@ace123.com International - Damien Connelly dconnelly@ace123.com UK - Naomi Green naomi@ace123.com USA - Jack Bulavsky Las Vegas - jack@ace123.com

Production Design - Stewart Hyde stewart@totaldesignworks.com www.totaldesignworks.com Webmaster and IT - Sudip Banjaree sb@ace123.com

Sales and Marketing Subscriptions - Helen Holmes subs@ace123.com Publisher - Peter White Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 pwhite@ace123.com

WELCOME from Miles Baron, Editor As 2015 comes to an end it looks like another year of improved performance for the Industry. Before we get carried away this has to be seen as stabilisation rather growth. There are reasons to be optimistic with the Gala sale finally resolved and the new team at Mecca well advanced with their latest Bingo concept. However, the agenda for 2016 looks very similar to 2015. We await the decision on the appeal regarding Greene King, the next steps in the long running saga over B2 machines in bookmakers and as of writing the Scotland Bill is still to be ratified by Parliament. Whilst the relevance to Licensed Bingo might not be obvious there is no doubt that the ‘lack of public confidence’ over the proliferation of B2 machines casts a shadow over all gaming machines particularly B3 machines. Meanwhile the number of consultations to absorb and respond to shows little sign of abating. Deadlines for Industry self-exclusion approach fast in April 2016, whilst operators anxiously anticipate the cost of the Living Wage and the introduction of the new £1 coin and polymer banknotes. The Bingo Association finds itself at the heart of Social Responsibility. There is no doubt regulators see the Trade Associations as a simple and effective way to drive self-regulation and co-ordinate best practice. This in turn encourages all licensed operators to join the Association to assist them to comply with the LCCP. With the Social Responsibility agenda comes increased costs and whether the Industry chooses to pay through their own company initiatives or their Trade Association, this Agenda does not come cheaply. Then again there are changes of personnel. A new CEO at GC, the departure of an influential senior GC director, a new Secretary of State at DCMS and a new parliamentary under secretary of state with responsibility for gambling, can we be sure what their strategies and priorities are and how, if at all, they might change? Perhaps the most interesting and informative event of 2016 will be the results of the Ipsos MORI research commissioned by the RGT into possible problem gambling behaviours in Bingo. This work, fully supported by the Association, is expected to be complete in May next year and should give the Industry confirmation of its place on the problem gambling ‘league table’, information about the source of any problem gambling issues and therefore the ability to deal with them. Licensed Bingo Operators will have direct evidence about the incidence of harm in their premises with no distractions from output and assumptions made from research undertaken elsewhere in the sector. I would like to wish everyone an enjoyable holiday and look forward to ICE 2016. Miles Baron Editor




Contents 1

Editor Miles Baron CEO of the British Bingo Association


Guest Foreword Jo Mayer ICE Marketing Director


Online Editor Mark McGuinness


News Round-Up


9. Mecca Mobile Peter White chats to Simon Woolf; Director of Mobile Gaming 11. Bingo & politics Dan Waugh Partner at Regulus Partners 12. Huge Cheques for Huge Winners We meet the man with the money, the National Bingo Game’s Business Development Manager, Alastair Stewart 15. Raising over £250,000 for Variety In January this year Miles Baron, Chief Executive of The Bingo Association launched the Association’s new charity partnership with Variety, the children’s charity. 22. Bingo Regulation in the academic spotlight Bingo Life catches up with Dr Kate Bedford, project leader on the University of Kent’s unique global research project into regulation of bingo.


15 25 25. VIP All the way, on the trip of a lifetime This year’s National Bingo Game VIP Cruise winners packed their bags and embarked on the trip of lifetime on Saturday 5 September. 30. Into The Archive... We track down Sean Connolly who has started tracking down bingo’s past.

The Editorial policy: The views and opinions expressed in Bingo Life remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or ommissions however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publishers written consent. Printed in the UK by MPC Ltd

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Why ICE is offering a warm welcome to the bingo sector As 2015 draws to a close, I am delighted to be able to confirm that the bingo industry as represented by The Bingo Association will have an enhanced presence at ICE, the world’s biggest and most influential businessto-business gaming exhibition. In fact, the Bingo Association will be providing a ‘home from home’ for its members in the form of the dedicated Bingo Association Networking Lounge, which will be situated in South Hall (S7-340) of the ExCeL Centre, London. It’s vital that major industry events such as ICE remain sensitive to the very specific needs of the industries that we serve. Bingo is an important component of the ICE proposition which encompasses the totality of the gaming experience. More attendees than ever before cited bingo as the key reason to attend ICE in 2015 and I am sure that The Bingo Association Networking Lounge will be a busy and dynamic part of the 2016 exhibition. Our invitation to the world industry for ICE 2016 is to ‘Enter The Gaming Technopolis’ and I am delighted that we have been able to work in partnership with Bingo Life magazine, Chief Executive Miles Baron and his colleagues at The Association to progress, what I hope will be a long-term and mutually rewarding partnership. With a record audited attendance of 25,497 there’s no doubt that ICE 2015 was a hugely successful event. However, whilst attendance figures are important, they can only tell part of the story. As significant as the barrage of positive data, I would argue, is the overwhelmingly positive and optimistic vibe which resonated down the aisles of the ExCeL Centre and which encompassed all sectors of international gaming. www.bingolifemagazine.com

Using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) a universally adopted metric which measures the willingness of customers to recommend a brand, ICE achieved an NPS of + 38 for visitors and + 49 for exhibitors - ratings which are amongst the very highest achieved by the best performing business-to-business and consumer exhibitions staged internationally. I think this level of goodwill can only be achieved when stakeholders connect with a brand and the relationship goes beyond the ‘norm’. Our job as event organisers is to harness that ‘positive vibe’ and invest it back into the customer experience, which is exactly what we are attempting to achieve with initiatives such as The Bingo Association Networking Lounge. Being the curators or guardians of ICE is a huge responsibility and one that we don’t take lightly. We continue to work with our various stakeholders, including the close to 30 trade associations which support ICE, in order to ensure that we provide the best possible environment for our community of 500+ exhibitors and the many thousands of industry professionals that we expect to welcome to London next February. For more information on ICE 2016 and to register for free admission, please visit www.icetotallygaming.com

Jo Mayer, ICE Marketing Director



1181 S. Rogers Circle, Suite 4 Boca Raton, FL 33487 Phone: +1 561 241-5368 contact@ortizgaming.com www.ortizgaming.com Request a meeting today!


Looking ahead to 2016

As we approach the end of the year and busy Christmas trading period for the online bingo industry, what are the likely developments for the forthcoming year? The iGaming industry, in general, is still in a period of transformation, in the shape of continued hyperbole on the mergers and acquisitions front. Why are we witnessing this trend? It is natural selection at work; simply markets are maturing with more competition coming into the supply chain. Furthermore continued regulatory change from governments in the United Kingdom and across the European Union is forcing adaptation within the ecosystem. The more adaptable a business is, the more opportunity will unfold for growth opportunities. Stride Gaming is a case in point. A relative newcomer to the online bingo sector, the business has made remarkable progress since its listing in May of this year [2015]. The Stride Group operates a multi-branded strategy that includes the online bingo brands Kitty Bingo, Lucky Pants Bingo, Bingo Extra, Jackpot CafĂŠ, Jackpot Liner, King Jackpot, together with online casino and slots brands Spin, Magical Vegas, Big Top Casino and Slots Bonanza.


Its preliminary results for 2015 are just as impressive, with the bingo operator posting net gaming revenue of ÂŁ27.8m (39.6m/$42.2m), an increase of over 200 percent on the previous trading period. It is clear that with so much mass-market bingo content already in the marketplace, the focus for 2016 will be one of quality, with game localisation to specific key player audiences. A central focus of that will include a better experience for the bingo player, whether that is at the club, online via a desktop or mobile within the actual bingo game play journey. The trend for mergers and acquisitions will continue unabated and will herald a new chapter for both landbased and online to co-exist and drive new products that target the next set of digital native customers with a fully immersive digital bingo experience both virtual and venue based.

Mark McGuinness Online Editor



News Round-Up Stride Gaming Plc posts impressive results

Stride Gaming plc, the multi-branded online bingo led operator, which listed on AIM in May 2015, continues to lead the way in the UK online bingo sector. The group announced record growth in its preliminary results for 2015. Net gaming revenue reported of ÂŁ27.8m (39.6m/$42.2m), which represented an increase of over 200% on the previous trading period.


The company headed by industry veterans Eitan Boyd and exSportingbet boss Nigel Payne, operates a multi-branded strategy that includes the online bingo brands Kitty Bingo, Lucky Pants Bingo, Bingo Extra, Jackpot CafĂŠ, Jackpot Liner, King Jackpot, Big Top Casino together with the online casino brands Spin and Win and Magical Vegas.

Bingo and Lottery operator Intertain profits soar Canadian bingo and lottery operator Intertain was another who reported strong revenue growth across its divisions in an earnings report at the end of its September Q3 results [2015]. Highlights included: Jackpotjoy up 21%, Vera&John up 21%, Mandalay up 15% and InterCasino up 9% for the comparable quarterly reporting periods.


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Sale of Gala Bingo to Caledonia Investments Plc


ala Coral, one of Europe’s leading betting and gaming companies has announces the sale of its Gala Bingo retail division to Caledonia Investments plc. Caledonia is a self-managed investment trust company with net assets of £1.6bn. The sale paves the way for the proposed merger with Ladbrokes, which is subject to CMA approval. Key highlights: • Agreed sale of 130 Gala Bingo clubs for a total consideration of £241 million • The sale to Caledonia Investments is conditional upon approval from the Gambling Commission which is expected to take up to 2 months • The net proceeds of the sale will be applied in partial redemption of the 2018 Senior Secured Notes • Gala Coral will retain both the Gala brand and the websites Galabingo.com and Galacasino.com On completion of the transaction the bingo clubs will continue to trade under the Gala brand through a licence agreement entered into by the two parties. Furthermore, the relationship between the bingo clubs and Galabingo.com will be governed by a Collaboration Agreement which will ensure that the two businesses take full advantage of the multi-channel opportunity, already developed successfully by Coral.

Carl Leaver, Chief Executive of Gala Coral commented: “We are very pleased to have agreed the sale of Gala Retail, following a competitive process. The sale is another transformative step for Gala Coral Group, following the turnaround of the business over the past few years. We wish the Gala Retail team all the very best for the future and believe the business will continue to thrive under its new owners. Gala Coral Group remains focussed on growing and developing our retail bookmaking and online businesses, and concluding the proposed merger with Ladbrokes.” Commenting on the acquisition, Duncan Johnson, Caledonia’s Head of Unquoted Investments, said: “Gala Bingo is well known to Caledonia’s Unquoted Investments team and we are delighted to be backing Simon Wykes and his team in the next chapter of its history. Its defensive, enduring business model, which delivers strong cash generation and dividend yield, fit ideally with the investment criteria sought by Caledonia for its unquoted portfolio and complements our other assets in the unquoted pool. As with our other unquoted investments, Gala Bingo will pay an attractive yield from inception”

Gala Retail has an experienced management team, led by Simon Wykes, CEO, who has a demonstrable track record of success in the bingo industry and is committed to remaining with the business as it enters an exciting new phase of its development. The sale of Gala Retail is unrelated to the proposed merger between the Coral Group and Ladbrokes plc which was announced in July 2015; Gala Retail did not form part of the proposed merged entity. www.bingolifemagazine.com



Local MP, Royston Smith, to Visit New Gala Bingo Venue In Antelope Park


ollowing on from the announcement of the bingo duty reduction from 20% to 10% in the 2014 budget, Gala Bingo is delighted to be welcoming the local MP, Royston Smith, on a visit to its new club at Antelope Park on Friday 30th October at 2.30PM. As you may already know, Gala Bingo is keeping to its commitment to the Treasury with the construction of its first new build club in nine years, and is expecting to create 50 new jobs for the local community as a result. The local Conservative MP will be donning a hard hat and high visibility jacket to join the new General Manager, Ian Pritchard, as they tour the venue for the first time prior to its opening in January 2016. Making the most of the re-investment, the brand new venue will provide two places within the same location to play the same bingo games in the Bingo pub or the 8

Bingo club. The venue will be fully equipped with a newly designed, separated area, where the modernday bingo player can enjoy the game without having to keep the noise down and a separate, 500 seat main hall, with sound proof glass for the more traditional player, so both desired experiences can be protected, without impacting on each other. Additional features include a vibrant arcade full of the latest slot machines, after hours bingo, a pub-style food menu and a relaxed and comfy outdoor terrace that provides a pleasant environment for smokers, or just people who want to play bingo, in comfort, outside. To find out more about Gala Bingo Antelope Park visit www.galacluborpub.com. For Gala Bingo latest news and deals go to www.galabingo.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @galabingo.

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Mecca Mobile Peter White chats to Simon Woolf, Director of Mobile Gaming


hat is involved with Emoji Bingo? Mecca is the first bingo brand in the world to develop a real-money bingo game made entirely of emojis. In Emoji Bingo, numbers and bingo balls are replaced with 50 tiny emoji characters. Players have to match 10 emojis to win a cash prize. Can it be played on my mobile and iPad? The game can be played online in a special emoji bingo room at meccabingo.com from a mobile device

or on an iPhone via the Mecca Bingo app that can be downloaded from the App Store. The new game is the latest addition to the popular meccabingo.com site, which underwent a large digital overhaul earlier this year. It is expected that this new and modern way of playing bingo will appeal not only to existing online players but to a younger audience, some of whom may never have played bingo online before.

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FEATURE: MECCA EMOJI BINGO Have you any statistics back on downloads of the App and player performance figures for Emoji Bingo? Early signs are very encouraging and the game is performing well. Have you anything else you would like to add? Simon Woolf, director of mobile, at Mecca Bingo said: “Emoji Bingo is a genuine industry first for Mecca. Taking the fastest growing language in the world and building a mobile bingo game around it is a real innovation by the company.”

Simon Woolf; Director of Mobile at Mecca

Simon, continues: “The interactive elements involved, the quicker games and the first-of-its-kind use of emojis will help bridge the gap between social and real-money gaming and drive new, younger customers for Mecca Bingo.”

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Bingo & politics: Playing our own game By Dan Waugh


he last decade has certainly been a challenging one for Britain’s bingo clubs. During generally tough times for our customers, the politicalregulatory environment has also thrown up a number of major challenges, which the industry has worked and lobbied hard to address. The progress and achievements have been remarkable - machine regulations are now as liberal and bingo duty as low as they have ever been. Indeed, there is a strong case to be made that, under the leadership of Miles Baron, The Bingo Association has become the most effective of all the gambling trade groups. Yet the fact remains that – despite a number of victories in Westminster and Whitehall - the trajectory of visits to bingo clubs (the key health indicator for our sector) continues to decline, albeit at a slower rate. This suggests that, in spite of the (often justified) complaints to Government, the public grievances were tangential to core problems. The existential challenge for bingo clubs – which predates smoking bans and the Gambling Act - is the fact that each succeeding generation of bingo customers is less engaged with their club than the previous one. As Robert Putnam documented in his book ‘Bowling Alone’, it is a pattern common to many parts of the traditional leisure industry within Great Britain and beyond as they struggle to adapt to changing patterns of consumption. The critical regulatory challenge is to seek changes that address our core business issue - the generational replacement cycle. I have long thought that our very passion for the game of bingo has also been our Achilles heel. The role of bingo clubs should be to meet the needs of their customers in the communities that they serve; but too often we have defaulted to selling bingo, regardless of demand. Diversification - in order to meet a broader base of consumer needs - seemed to be the key. It is therefore a source of some concern to me that the

sector’s only meaningful mode of diversification has been into gaming machines – the consequence of improved regulations, better management and a switching of codes by some arcade operators. My concern has two dimensions. First, as we have seen with betting shops (another example of generational decline), while redistribution of consumer spending away from traditional gambling to machines can be highly profitable, it does not come without regulatory and political risks. Second, there are customer-centric reasons to be wary of pinning our future on slots. In Nevada (the world’s secondbiggest gambling market after Macau), gaming machine revenues have been in decline since 2007. Young people in the US simply don’t engage with slots in the way that their forebears did and major efforts are underway to address this (e.g. through the introduction of skill elements). As they say in management-speak, we should focus on “where the puck is going” rather than where it is. In the year ahead, we need to prioritise ways in which Government can help to address the core business challenges. The industry pledged to use the duty cut to fund research and development and for our own good we need to fulfil that promise. At the same time, we ought to be careful not to tarnish the very good name that bingo has within regulatory and political circles in search of near-term gain. Lastly, we should focus on our own game rather than getting sucked into rows elsewhere. However disagreeable some people think FOBTs are, they are not the cause of bingo’s problems; political capital should not be expended in other’s fights.

Dan Waugh E: dan.waugh@reguluspartners.com W: www.reguluspartners.com

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BIG CHEQUES for BIG WINNERS We meet the man with the money, the National Bingo Game’s Business Development Manager, Alastair Stewart Mecca Ayr: GM Natasha Baxter, Jackpot Winner and Alastair Stewart


lastair joined the National Bingo Game in May 2013 as Business Development Manager, a role that straddles both National Bingo Game and Meeron (independent game development and management): popular with clubs and players, he’s the man who presents many of the Jackpot cheques. Born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, Alastair grew up in Welwyn and Stevenage. Now living in Lutterworth and working in Dunstable, neither of which are far from his original ‘stomping ground’. Alastair’s first job in bingo was at Mecca Stevenage. Twenty five years later he is still enjoying the industry: “I was in a room with five others recently and we had 114 years of experience between us! I can safely say that in that time, the vast majority of people I have met in bingo are exceptional: including my now wife. We worked 12

together nearly 20 years ago and when she put her notice in, I asked her out. Some initial “choppy waters”, but after a short courting process of 17 years we got married.” In 1988 Alastair left Waitrose to join Mecca, working part-time, before returning to his father’s hometown of Liverpool to study. During holidays he worked in insurance and life assurance, but found that the ‘9 to 5’ was not for him. Following completion of his studies he spent 10 weeks volunteering at the Lister Hospital back in Stevenage and working back at the bingo club. Three months in, fully in love with bingo, he applied for Mecca’s Management Programme and was successful. The rest as they say is history… Working for a few years as a support manager, in West London, Luton, Knotty Ash (Liverpool) and East London issue 020


he became a General Manager in 1996, with spells in Southampton and Hounslow, followed by Brighton, Kent, and Harlow. Alastair said, “I took Leicester through the Smoke Free Legislation and then a had short spell in another flagship club Oldbury. I then moved to a central role, looking after MCB across 100 sites.” It was following his move to a central role that MCB changed a lot: the introduction of auto-caller, jingles to games, new patterns and win criteria, and standardisation of link games. The MCB games were also slowed down significantly to make them easier to play – resulting in greater player participation and increased income. In 2012 he returned to his studies, completing a Post Graduate Diploma in Multi Unit Leadership and Strategy, which fits well with his current role. “Customer Service has always been important to me and I am supported by Jo Munt (Games Manager) and Andrea Wray (Member Services) as well as a quality team in Game Control. In 2014 we introduced the WAGS system for linking all Meeron clubs, plus connected Carlton, Gala and Mecca to our system, meaning the licensed bingo industry was fully linked for the first time! This benefitted the industry initially with the Boost Bingo Games, a key component of the Boost Bingo lobbying campaign and more recently with fundraising for Variety. The industry links twice daily for National Live, the biggest instant prize in bingo anywhere and currently 350 out of 368 licensed bingo clubs enjoy the benefits of this game.” Alastair added, “With this system, we moved Game Control back to Dunstable, having been outsourced for a number of years. Then, in June this year we also brought the National Bingo Game Control back to Dunstable.” Alastair has been with the National Bingo Game for just over two and a half years and singles out his highlights as: • Re-launching the National Bingo Game in February 2014 • Working with suppliers to offer the National Bingo Game on new platforms • Development of National Live: played by 93% of the industry “Much of the working together requires a little compromise and we achieve this by getting people together: The National Bingo Game Sub-Committee

Apollo Rhyl: Alastair Stewart, Jackpot Winner and Antony Cotton

meets bi-monthly, with the key stakeholders making up 92% of tickets sales, similar for Board Sales on National Live. The Meeron Steering Committee is the gathering for the key stakeholders in the independent link circuits. While the outcomes are not always ideal for everyone, I am encouraged by everyone wanting to work together for the benefit of the bingo industry, as demonstrated through Boost Bingo, the new National Bingo Game and National Live. Outside work, Alastair is very much a family man, except for the occasional Boy’s Road Trip: “My daughter Emily briefly followed my rugby background, but surpassed my achievements and played for Leicestershire County U18’s in 2014 and 2015. My 9 year old Douglas follows my other favourite sport and plays football for school and town. He dreams of playing for Liverpool and Daniel Sturridge is his role model – I just hope he has better luck with injuries!” “I am a football supporter, Liverpool FC after my dad, and rugby, Leicester Tigers. Plus endurance motor racing. An annual trip each June to le Mans for the 24 Hour race has grown, and grown: between 20 and 40 lads, for 5 days of culture! Our camping set-up grows each year and currently includes: a fully operational lager, bitter and cider bar, Sky Satelite and TV, music CD and vinyl mixing decks, decent speakers and sound system, lighting, fridges, freezers, 3 generators, 6 Gazebos and a Ford Transit and VW Transporter to move it all. Plus ear plugs for the snoring! Alastair Stewart is the Business Development Manager for the National Bingo Game and Meeron and can be reached on +44 (0)1582 860900 and by email at alastair@nationalbigo.co.uk

www.bingolifemagazine.com 13

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Miles Baron and Rob Halfon MP with Brian Robertson of Variety, at Mecca Harlow

You Love Variety, We Love Variety, Bingo Loves Variety!

Raising over ÂŁ250,000 for Variety Majestic Bingo, in the red

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North

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Gala Barnsley, Dan Jarvis MP for Barnsley Central

Gala Gloucester, Richard Graham MP for Gloucester


Castle Nantgarw, Owen Smith MP for Pontypridd

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In January this year Miles Baron, Chief Executive of The Bingo Association, met with Variety supporter Claire Sweeney, at Gala Bingo in Wavertree Liverpool, to launch the Association’s new charity partnership with Variety, the children’s charity


ine months and a HUGE amount of hard work later The Bingo Association presented Variety with large cheque, for a huge amount of money: £250,000, to be precise. A cause for huge celebration all round. Representing 98% of all retail bingo clubs, the Association has been raising funds for Variety throughout 2015, with bingo clubs across the country taking part in a range of fundraising activities. Following the launch all Association Members were sent an information and briefing pack, outlining key aspects of Variety’s work, how clubs could get involved now and going forward. Many operators wasted no time in getting club staff and customers involved, hosting fun days and football matches earlier in the year, others opting to sell Hearts of Gold badges as they planned their fundraising. Many operators support a range of charities, so planning support for Variety was essential,

Mecca Catford, Heidi Alexander MP for Lewisham East

Gala Wallsend, Mary Glindon MP for North Tyneside

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FEATURE: BINGO LOVES VARIETY with many clubs running events during August and September. In all 317 different bingo clubs across Great Britain took part: from bingo games to wing walks, from crossdressing to cake sales: bingo loves variety. Large operators, small operators, networks, links: bingo was mad for it. Beacon, Bedworth, BJs, Carlton, Castle, Clifton, Connaught, Gala, Majestic, Mecca, Meeron, Riva – it is a long list! Gala Bingo raised over £75,000 in September, with head office staff also getting in on the action, The Exec Show, being particularly popular. Participants were able bid money to see a nominated member of the Gala Executive in costume, with the highest bidder choosing which costume the nominated Exec member wore. Just to add a twist, for double the money, the Exec Mecca Taunton, Rebecca Pow MP for Taunton Dean

Mecca Dewsbury, Paula Sherriff MP for Dewsbury and Mirfield

Gala Rochester, Kelly Tolhurst MP for Rochester and Strood


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FEATURE: BINGO LOVES VARIETY member could pass the costume to another member of the Exec of their choosing. We have it on good authority that Kevin Clegg passed his Princess Anna (from Frozen) costume to Simon Wykes; at the time of going to press we were yet to receive pictures. A sure fire crowd pleaser, we hope that this unique Show will be open to external bidders next year!

Wing Walkers from Majestic Bingo - Kristina Williamson and Donna Batten, Majestic Bingo Head Office

Michael Haszko form Variety said: “Variety is overwhelmed by the support of The Bingo Association, its member bingo clubs, staff and customers, for joining together and raising hundreds of thousands of vital funds in support of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children across the UK. Where possible, Variety aims to fund appeals locally to where funds have been raised, making a positive impact to children’s lives wherever it is needed most.” On Friday 2nd October, Bingo Clubs all over the UK were united as one, when a cheque for £250,000 was presented to Variety – the Children’ Charity. Castle Corby, Tom Pursglove MP for Corby and East Northampronshire

Gala Great Park, Richard Burden MP for Birmingham Northfield

Gala HO, Suzy Hall, Simon Wykes, Kevin Clegg and Ruth Wilson

Apollo Bingo: Jason Boulton, Robert Down and Michelle Boulton, Rhyl

Mecca Leicester, Jon Ashworth MP for Leicester South

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Gala Sheffield, Harry Harpham MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough Gala Glasgow, Stuart McDonald MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch

Gala Lincoln, Karl McCartney MP for Lincoln

Wendy Goose and son, Regent Bingo

Mark Jepp and Kristina Williamson, Majestic Bingo Head Office

Majestic Bingo: Steve Wright and Donna Batten - MajesticBingo, Alistair Stewart - Bingo Association, Yolanda Lynes - Variety Children’s Charity, Michael Evans - Apollo Mansfield, Ben Pitts and Janet Goad - Majestic Bingo, Jon Nellist – Apollo Mansfield, Kristina Williamson -Majestic Bingo


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Club 3000 Liverpool, George Howarth MP for Knowsley

Gala Boston, Matt Warman MP for Boston and Skegness

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BINGO REGULATION in the academic spotlight

Bingo Life catches up with Dr Kate Bedford, project leader on the University of Kent’s unique global research project into regulation of bingo, following a public debate held in London


cademics engaged in the ground-breaking research project hosted a debate in London recently to air and discuss key challenges facing the bingo sector.

Miles Baron, The Bingo Associaton’s Chief Executive joined the debate, which was held as part of an innovative three-year research initiative called the Bingo Project (www.kent.ac.uk/thebingoproject) that is investigating the little-understood area of bingo regulation. The research is being conducted by a team of academics with backgrounds in law, politics, and sociology at the University of Kent and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, which funds independent academic research. Using four case studies of bingo regulation from across the globe (England 22

and Wales; Canada; Brazil; and online in the European Union), the project is the first of its kind to provide a systematic account of how the sector is regulated. Project leader Dr Kate Bedford, Reader in Law at Kent Law School, said: ‘Compared with other types of gambling, bingo is a markedly under-researched site, attracting a fraction of the attention given to casinos. Academics don’t tend to study bingo, and even when it is present in cultural life it tends to be a backdrop rather than the focus of attention – I’m not sure how many people noticed that bingo was central to the film Pride, for example, or the film Selma? However, bingo is a globally significant and profitable gambling form, played in many countries and increasingly popular online. It is time to take it more seriously in research.” issue 020


In particular, bingo regulation sheds light on issues such as local versus central government control of gambling; the interaction between licensing law, class, and gender; the private versus public status of club and associational life; the control of entertainment and speculation; the regulation of volunteering; and the role of transnational and multilateral bodies, states, local governments, employers, and workers in responsible gambling initiatives. A diverse team of researchers is involved in the Bingo Project: Dr Oscar Alvarez-Macotela, an expert in stock market regulation; Dr Donal Casey, a specialist in EU law and regulation, Maria Luiza Kurban Jobim, a scholar working on Brazilian consumer law; and Professor Toni Williams, a leading critical consumer finance law expert. The project is supported by a voluntary advisory board that is chaired by gambling policy expert Professor Gerda Reith and that includes several leading academic experts on gambling, as well as representatives from the Gambling Commission, The Bingo Association, and gambling law practitioners in the UK and abroad.

“Some people see bingo as distinctive because of the player base; the role of the game in non-commercial or mutual aid spaces such as working men’s clubs or churches; the social nature of the play; or the close bond between players and workers in some traditional hall environments. We are interested in identifying the influence that these different ideas of distinctiveness have on regulation.” The project is working to identify the key legal and policy challenges involved in regulating bingo as experienced by a variety of stakeholders, and it will make recommendations to UK policymakers, the UK bingo industry, third sector stakeholders, and academics. Dr Bedford believes these challengs have wider significance for discussions surrounding the regulation of gambling: ‘We’re seeking to learn more about how bingo is played and regulated across the world and to inform people

about the importance of bingo to broader gambling debates.’ The team began their research in September 2013 with an exploration of the impact on the commercial and charitable bingo sectors of changes made to UK gambling laws since 2005. Dr Bedford and Dr Alvarez undertook extensive fieldwork, interviewing over 100 bingo operators and regulators, and visiting commercial halls, social clubs and holiday parks. Dr Bedford, herself a lifelong bingo player, was keen to establish how people experience the rules and regulations of the game, commetning ‘It’s one thing to know what the rules look like on the books but it’s really something different to know what they look like on the ground in peoples’ lives.’ Another question that she has explored in depth is the extent to which bingo is seen by players, gambling businesses, regulators, charities, and courts as a distinctive gambling sector. “Some people see bingo as distinctive because of the player base; the role of the game in non-commercial or mutual aid spaces such as working men’s clubs or churches; the social nature of the play; or the close bond between players and workers in some traditional hall environments. We are interested in identifying the influence that these different ideas of distinctiveness have on regulation.” During the public debate held in London in October, the team presented the preliminary findings of their research into bingo regulation in England and Wales to an audience that included academics, industry insiders, local government regulators, lawyers, representatives of working men’s clubs, and Labour Life Peer Lord Raymond Collins of Highbury (who has policy interests in culture, media and sports.) The team shared research material on the ‘UK’s top 20 bingo cases,’ the scale and scope of the game, and a collection of quotations from political debates about bingo in the UK parliament going back to 1936. Also offering presentations were Miles Baron, Chief Executive of The Bingo Association, and Helen Venn, Programme Director at the Gambling Commission. Dr Bedford’s presentation identified three key challenges facing the bingo sector: the limited involvement of noncommercial bingo operators in debates about gambling regulation; regulators’ past and present attempts to define the game of bingo; and the conundrum of whether, and how, law and policy relating to responsible

www.bingolifemagazine.com 23


from the gaming machine section; or refusing to serve alcohol to someone with a gambling problem. Dr Bedford said: “A priority for the future will be to see how these mechanisms fare in relation to new formalised mechanisms of customer interaction and self-exclusion that are now in the social responsibility codes of the Gambling Commission’s Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice.”

gambling should be standardised across gambling sectors. The research has found that when bingo was first placed on the radar of politicians in the UK, it was by noncommercial clubs. They remained important in debates about bingo regulation throughout the 20th century. However in the 21st century they have become almost invisible in conversations about the sector, even though they are still important sites for bingo in some parts of the country (especially South Wales and the North East). A key challenge is therefore to re-involve them in the debates. With regard to the issue of game definition, machines and new technologies are of growing importance to local, national, and transnational gambling regulators. New technologies have changed the degree of human participation required to win a game of bingo, and the end point of claiming a prize, and both of these changes raise key challenges for how bingo is to be distinguished from other forms of gambling (especially electronic lotteries). As Dr Bedford discussed in the debate, this topic is especially important in England and Wales because a bingo license entitles a premises to gaming machines: “it is this issue of inter-linked licensing entitlements that makes the technicalities of game definition so significant in this case study.” Through interviews that include the topic of responsible gambling in commercial bingo, the research has identified many long-standing and informal mechanisms used within halls including ‘having a chat’ with players; calling up family members; telling someone to go home or to only come in with a group of family or friends; barring someone from the premises as a whole, or 24

Attention has now turned to a comparative study of jurisdictions in Canada, Brazil and the EU. In Canada, bingo can only be played in support of charitable causes (unless run by a province) and it can be an important source of revenue for charitable organisations. The team has been researching how hotly debated regulatory reforms in bingo impact different groups of people in British Columbia and Ontario. In Brazil, bingo was briefly exempted from federal criminal laws against gambling between 1993 and 2004 with the intention of funding national sports development, but that exemption was reversed in 2004 after a corruption scandal. The research team is exploring the reasons why bingo was restricted in Brazil at a time when gambling laws were being liberalised in many other parts of the world. Finally, in the EU, the research team will conduct a systematic review of the laws governing the online bingo sector - these currently vary significantly across the 28 member states. Overall the team has spoken to over 300 people involved in bingo across the four case studies, and they have so much data that they have had to quadruple the server space allocated for their project within the university’s IT system! Dr Bedford said “we asked the bingo sector, commercial and non-commercial, to participate in the research, and the response rate we have had has been honestly remarkable. I have had people calling me up asking to be interviewed – I have never experienced that in my research before!” At the close of the project next year, the Bingo Project will present its final report, from all the case studies, at an academic conference on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus on 23 June 2016. In the meantime, academic and non-academic bingo-related research materials are available for interested visitors to explore on the Bingo Project website: www.kent.ac.uk/thebingoproject. A short video of the public debate event will be available soon. If you have any comments for the team they can be reached by email at bingoproject@kent.ac.uk issue 020


VIP All the way, on the trip of a lifetime This year’s National Bingo Game VIP Cruise Winners set sail

28 www.bingolifemagazine.com 25 issue 020


Joan and Mark Barry

Brendan Farron


laces on this year’s cruise were won back in March on the National Bingo Game by successfully winning either the House or National Prize in 55 numbers or less and on a Lucky Star. The prize was for two people, so lucky winners were able to bring a guest. Winners and their guests were contacted after all prizes had been won in order to start making travel arrangements and complete each booking. Finally, Saturday 5th September arrived and winners and their guests made their way to Gatwick, staying-over night before an early flight the next day to Venice, Italy. Getting all the winners, guests and hosts together before flying allowed everyone to start getting to know one another and share a few drinks. Upon arrival at Venice Marco Polo Airport the sun was shining and stayed with winners for the week, as they cruised on to Bari, Olympia, Santorini, Athens, Corfu and Montenegro before heading back to Venice.


Tina Chipchase & Tania Todd


“Guests couldn’t believe the prize they had won – how luxurious it was and how well looked after they felt. More than one person commented that it was an experience of a lifetime and they felt like real VIP’s. I had one winner tell me she felt like the luckiest person in the world. “The Cruise was an amazing prize and the amount of extras included and the treatment the Winners got was truly 5 star. I feel truly privileged to have been able to take part in it and to have made a difference to the experience of the guests: really really special alround.” Michelle Boulton, Apollo Rhyl (Host) issue 020


“I cannot thank the host team for what for me was a holiday of a lifetime, one that would only ever have been a dream, and will stay in my memories forever.”

Pauline Smith and Diane Parker

Pauline Smith, Winner’s Guest, Mecca Leeds:

“The holiday was a holiday of a lifetime! We had a fabulous and fantastic time. We met and made some lovely new friends and the National Game and hosts were brilliant: looked after us and made us feel so welcome.” Diane Parker, Winner from Mecca Leeds Taking a different route to last year’s cruise, the itinerary provided a new port everyday, each with an optional excursion. The historical highlight was the Acropolis, followed by Olympia and the beauty spot highlight, Santorini. A great week of sun, fun and new friends on the second National Bingo Game VIP Cruise.

Gloria Ennis and Sonia Loreth

“The VIP Cruise 2015 was an absolute dream come true. We met some great people, went on some great excursions and generally ate, drank and were merry. Would definitely love to experience this all over again!” Gloria Ennis, winner Beacon Cricklewood

“It was my first experience of a cruise and it was extra special. Being introduced to everyone was great and the accommodation on the ship was outstanding. It was all excellent 5 * plus ! “ Denise Blackholly, winner from Mecca Romford www.bingolifemagazine.com 27


Dave Smith and Helen Worth, Granada Peterborough 1982


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Into The Archive... We track down Sean Connolly who has started tracking down bingo’s past.


ingo has been a popular pursuit for decades and while as an industry we remain firmly focused on the future it is interesting to review and remember its past.

Emmaline McLaughlin, Unknown and actress Chrissy Rock, Buckingham Bingo Hunts Cross 1999

Firmly routed in ‘community’, a leisure pursuit that appealed to a predominantly female audience: some things don’t change, but the venues, the characters and fashions do.

The project came about purely by accident following a visit to his mother’s house. While there he had been looking through his mother’s old photographs and discovered a picture of his Uncle’s Communion from 1946.

Staff show at Buckingham Hunts Cross 1999

Sean Connolly, currently the General Manager at Gala Bingo in Hanley, Stoke On Trent, started his bingo journey twenty-seven years ago at the Coral Social Club in Preston. His rapidly expanding Facebook community – Old Bingo Photographs, is an unexpected success, constantly finding new followers and receiving pictures every week. The project came about purely by accident following a visit to his mother’s house. While there he had been looking through his mother’s old photographs and discovered a picture of his Uncle’s Communion from 1946. With help from his mother he was able to name everybody in the photograph and published this online with a number of other pictures.

Helen Worth with Ian Sopp, Granada Peterborough 1982

Following publication of the Communion photograph a relative from Canada got in touch – uniting parts of Sean’s extended family once more. The experience encouraged Sean to publish more photographs from the past, which included some that were bingo related. www.bingolifemagazine.com 31


Stephen Barlow Liner, George Best and John Roberts, Buckingham Old Trafford opening night January 2000 Glenn Buckley and Stan Kennedy, Gala Stockport Millenium night

The experience encouraged Sean to publish more photographs from the past, which included some that were bingo related. It was fellow General Manager, Phil Artingstall from Gala Wythenshawe, who suggested to Sean that make a Facebook group. Over the months that followed Sean started to collect old bingo pictures, scanning those he had, receiving others from friends and looking online for more. By 5 May 2015 Sean was ready to set up and start his ‘Old Bingo Photographs’ community, publishing an initial batch of pictures online. Within an hour Darrell Butler from Gala Brighton had published a picture – within four days there were 400 likes and lots of messages and comments – currently standing at 1,158 likes in 5 month. Clearly there is a passion for all things bingo. To find out more: www.facebook.com/old.bingo.photographs Coral Social Club, Aberdeen 1989

Barry Lewis Cox and some Coral Social Club members from Longton, Hull Astra May 1990


issue 020

Produced by


Representing the British Amusement Industry



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12-14 JANUARY 2016 ExCeL London Exhibition Centre

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The No. 1 Association for bingo Shaping policy Developing business Driving the industry agenda The Association for all things bingo – working with senior management and operators for more than two decades – successfully promoting and developing the interests of all bingo operators. For industry news, comment and information on the benefits of membership, visit www.bingo-association.co.uk T 01582 860921

E info@bingo-association.co.uk gambleaware.co.uk

Profile for Casino Life Magazine

Bingo Life Winter 2015  

For further information www.bingolifemagazine.com

Bingo Life Winter 2015  

For further information www.bingolifemagazine.com